Thursday, September 29, 2011

Adagio Teas Dragonwell (Pyramid Bag)

Country of Origin: Chinese
Leaf Appearance: flat, dark green
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 180 degrees
Water Temperature: 3 minutes
Preparation Method: ceramic mug
Liquor: pale gold

This tea was packaged in a silky pyramid tea bag and is part of the Artisan Comfort Gourmet Tea Collection. The flavor was sweet and buttery with a subtle toastiness that reminded me of freshly popped popcorn. This tea was very smooth but a touch of vegetal astringency gave a dry finish to each sip. As far as tea bags go, this is one of the best dragonwells I’ve had. A lot of companies will use substandard tea that isn't properly pan fired but it was obvious that this tea is the real deal. I hardly ever get around to drinking it anymore but dragonwell is still of my absolutely favorite green teas. I’m so happy that I have a stock of these at work to get me through the chilly fall days to come.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Joy’s Teaspoon Eternal Sunshine

/93-194-thickbox/eternal-sunshine.jpgCountry of Origin: not given
Leaf Appearance: small, dark and curled with blue petals mixed throughout
Ingredients: pu-erh tea, orange peel, freeze-dried raspberries, flavoring, cornflower blossoms
Steep time: 2 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: very dark, nearly black

This tea was very lightly flavored with just a hint of berries and citrus. I love a naturally sweet tea and this one did not taste artificial at all. The puerh base was earthy and chocolaty with a rich maple syrup-like quality to it. Overall I thought that this tea was really well balanced. While I was sipping, I found myself thinking that I wish that this was how Earl Grey tasted. Subtle orange flavor trumps the burn of bergamot for me any day. The cooler this tea got the more I liked it. Now I wish that I had enough to make it iced as well as I’m sure that would be delicious. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Boston Tea Company Bombay Chai

Country of Origin: China and India
Leaf Appearance: small, dark with non-descript colored pieces mixed throughout
Ingredients: Black tea, organic ginger, organic cloves, organic cinnamon, cardamom, orange spice flavor
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain mug
Liquor: bright, reddish brown

This tea was packaged in a silk pyramid tea bag. It was wonderfully toasty with just a hint of sweet spice. There wasn’t a single ingredient that stood out or overpowered the others, instead they seemed perfectly blended. I don’t like chai that is throat-burningly over the top so it was just my speed. Although on the mild side, it was definitely still strong enough to take sugar or milk if you wanted to. I still have a few bags left and I’m looking forward to having them at work. Fall is the perfect time of year for chai and the weather here has finally started to cool off a bit.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Village Tea Company Cherry Me Bloom

small_Cherry Rooibos.jpgCountry of Origin: South Africa
Leaf Appearance: small, brown woody stalks with petals and lemongrass blades mixed in throughout
Ingredients: Rooibos, sour cherry, lemon grass, flavor, acai, sunflower petals
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: deep reddish brown

There were no brewing directions on the package or Village Tea Company’s website so I pretty much winged it with this one. This tea was an easy drinker but possibly too easy. I was expecting a very tart, punchy tea but the dominating flavor was the woodsy and sweet rooibos. The cherry came through almost as an aftertaste. With flavored teas there is a fine line between blandness, being good and overdoing it. I tried resteeping for seven minutes but it still didn’t do much. This wasn’t a bad tea, it was just a little too quiet for my taste.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thistledown Cozies Tea Wallet

There is nothing worse than wanting a good cup of tea and not being able to get one but it’s not always easy to carry tea with me. When I saw these for sale at World Tea East, I knew that I just had to have one. These six pocket tea wallets have a snap closure and are handmade in the U.S.A. They come in a rainbow of colors but the one that I picked up is a tan Asian inspired print.

I’ve currently got six loose leaf sachets from Adagio which makes it a little bulky. I always lug around a gigantic purse so that really isn’t a big deal. I’m excited to try putting some T-Sacs in it as well. Unfortunately I don't think there's a way to make these manly so they are probably only usable for the ladies but I love it all the same.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Joy’s Teaspoon Italian Dream

Country of Origin: N/A (most likely South Africa)
Leaf Appearance: small and dark reddish brown. I was able to easily spot most of the other ingredients
Ingredients: rooibos tea, chocolate chips, brittle pieces, caramel pieces, flavoring, freeze-dried yoghurt granules, roasted coffee beans, roman camomile
Steep time: 8 minutes
Water Temperature: 205 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: deep brown

This herbal tea blend was decadently sweet and creamy without being over the top or artificial tasting. It reminded me very much of tiramisu and it would make a perfect dessert tea. The ingredients sounded like an odd combination but somehow it works. I was a bit hesitant to try this at first because I saw that it contained the dreaded “C” word…COFFEE! I love how coffee smells but I’ve never been able to stomach the stuff. I was pleasantly surprised to find that rather than a blast of java, the roasted coffee beans added more of a mild hint of mocha. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Adagio Teas Sweet Medley Collection

Photo: Adagio Teas
Now that I've finally reviewed all of the flavors in this gift set, I thought that I should also review it as a whole. Always the skeptic, especially when it comes to tea bags, I have to say that I was really impressed. Not all of the flavors were exactly my cup of tea but that was more of a matter of personal preference than the actual quality of the blends. As bagged teas go, these are about as good as it gets. They’re not spectacular but they are all pretty darned tasty and not too far off from their loose leaf equivalents. The packaging is cardboard but it was simple, sturdy and well designed. I would definitely recommend this collection, especially as a gift or even just to keep at the office. I’ve been keeping this on my desk at work and those little bags fueled me through several it’s-way-too-early-for-this mornings.

The Sweet Medley Collection consists of 30 tea bags, 5 each of the following flavors:
Peach Oolong
Citrus Green
Earl Grey
White Blueberry
Vanilla Rooibos

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cost Plus World Market Talisman Tea Infuser Mug

Talisman Tea Infuser Mugs, Set of 2 | World MarketI’m always looking for easy ways to make tea on the go so I was really excited to give this one a try. The mug that I received was a different print (a pretty Asian inspired one) than the ones shown on their site but it had the same basic design. The set featured a tall mug with an ceramic infuser that fit inside and a lid. It retained heat well but didn’t get so hot that I was unable to touch it.

While aesthetically pleasing, I thought that the holes on the infuser were too large. I had trouble keeping anything but very large leafed teas (like my favorite dan cong) from slipping through. For this reason, I definitely prefer steel mesh infuser baskets over ceramic ones like this. If you don’t mind leaves in your cup then it’s really not that big of a deal. This mug would make a great gift for someone just getting started with tea or for someone who likes to make tea at the office.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

World Tea East 2011

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending World Tea East in Philadelphia. Since Philly is so close to home I opted to travel by bus and to just go for the day on Saturday. I have to admit that when I first arrived I was a little disappointed to see how small the expo was. In hindsight, that was part of what made it so great. Instead of running from booth to booth in a harried crowd, there was time to have meaningful conversations with some wonderful people.

Just outside of the exhibit hall, Artist Michele Brody set up her Reflections In Tea art project. It features a tea house made out of copper pipe with walls made out of paper t-sacs. Show attendees were asked to write hopes or prayers for those affected by the recent tsunami in Japan and donations were also collected for that same purpose. It was lovely to take a time out to sit in the tea house and enjoy a cup of tea.

I wandered the aisles a bit and then my next stop was the oolong tasting at Teas Etc.’s booth. I sampled some really great teas, including a nice aged dong ding. They were also kind enough to let me sample a sixty year old puerh that was AMAZING. I love meeting tea people that are enthusiastic about what they do and the crew there definitely fit the bill.

The rest of the expo was a blur of sampling teas and talking shop. Many of the companies were very generous with samples and there will definitely be lots of reviews coming soon. I promised myself that I wouldn’t buy any tea since I already have way too much (if that is at all possible). I did buy a cute tea wallet from Thistledown Cozies and the latest issue of Art of Tea.

As I heard a lot of people say during the expo, tea people are some the nicest most laid back people you will every meet. After the expo was over, I got together with several friends from twitter at Tbar. I had a rather yummy honeybee latte. It was a great pick me up after all of the walking that I did. After that it was time for the long bus trip home. Even though I was exhausted and a bit over-caffeinated, I’m really glad that I made the trek.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Rishi Tea Matcha 100% Premium Tea Powder

Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: very fine, bright green powder
Ingredients: green tea
Water Temperature: cold
Preparation Method: empty packet into bottle of water and shake
Liquor: Cloudy, almost opaque pale green

This tea was clean and refreshing with a somewhat creamy mouth feel. It was sweet and vegetal with hardly any astringency. The taste was exactly as a bowl of matcha would taste, minus the foam. Out of all of Rishi’s tea powders that I have tried this one is my absolute favorite. I also felt that the powder stayed dissolved longer than the other varieties. I love throwing these in my bag for work or the gym. I don’t always get time to make a fresh hot tea and this is a great substitute. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Primula Liberty Tea Kettle

I’ve been begging my family to buy a new tea kettle for months. We’ve had a string of really cheap ones that either stopped whistling or scalded your hand when pouring. My local Shoprite had this bad boy on sale so we decided to give a whirl. The first thing that attracted me to it was the stainless steel body. These types of kettles are always much easier to keep clean than their more colorful counterparts.

It boils water, it pours, what more could you ask for? It’s no Breville but it does everything that it should. It works just as well for my mom’s green tea bags as it does for my gaiwan of puerh. The whistle is loud but not obnoxious or ear piercing. It has fairly large capacity, weighing in at 2.5 quarts. That’s important since constant tea drinking is genetic. I would definitely recommend this kettle.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Joy’s Teaspoon Riesling

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: mix of whole and broken leaves. The cornflowers added a punch of color
Ingredients: Pai Mu Tan, Cui Min, rose hip peel, freeze-dried black currants, flavoring, mallow blossoms, cornflower blossoms
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: bright gold

Having just started working at a wine shop I was really excited to try this blend. The aroma truly smelled like Riesling. I am happy to say that it tasted exactly as it smelled as well. It was flowery and sweet with notes of pineapple and grapefruit. I was amazed at how grapey it was as well. From the description on their website, it seems that the “flavoring” may be actual grape juice. I love authenticity in a tea blend! I tried a second infusion which was much more subtle but that is to be expected of a white tea like this.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Adagio Teas Peach Oolong (Pyramid Bag)

Photo: Adagio Teas
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: dark brown in color and twisted in shape
Ingredients: oolong tea, natural peach flavor, apple pieces, marigold flowers, apricots
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain mug
Liquor: dark amber

This tea was packaged in a silky pyramid tea bag and is part of the Sweet Medley Gourmet Tea Collection. It tea was extremely aromatic, with the apricot and peach standing out in the nose.  The flavor wasn’t quite as potent but I considered that a good thing. This tea was floral and sweet with notes of honey and a bit of smokiness that lingered in the finish of each sip. The flavoring was well balanced and complex. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rishi Tea Sencha 100% Premium Tea Powder

Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: very fine, dark green powder
Ingredients: green tea
Water Temperature: Cold
Preparation Method: empty packet into bottle of water and shake
Liquor: Cloudy, almost opaque pale green

When I’m on the go I constantly find myself looking for healthy alternatives to the sugary sweetened iced teas that fill most store’s shelves. One of the things that impressed me the most was that the only ingredient is tea. The look of this tea was rather…interesting?  My boyfriend likened it to raw sewage. The taste of the tea was a bit different than I was expecting but it was still very good. It was naturally sweet but with a surprising bit of nuttiness that I wouldn’t expect from sencha. Presumably they would have to roast it quite a bit to get the moisture content down enough to make it into a powder. I definitely recommend these handy little packets.